Boston, Mass. - February 1, 2012 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team picked up a three-set win on the road at Emmanuel College on Wednesday evening in the Jean Yawkey Center. The Pride took the match by the scores of 26-24, 25-14, 25-22.
The Saints, which were ranked 13th in the country in this week’s American Volleyball Coaches Association national poll dropped their season opener with the loss. Springfield, which is ranked second in the country, improves to 3-4, and has won both of its matches against Division III opponents this year.
The first set was evenly matched with the two clubs battling to an 8-8 start in early going. A kill from the middle and a solo block by Tom McCaffrey gave the Saints a two-point edge at 10-8. After a Pride timeout, freshman outside hitter Ashanti Jackson served off an ace, which put the hosts up three. Consecutive kills from Springfield’s Greg Falcone kept it close at 13-12, Saints.
A big swing from the left side by Jackson broke another tie at 16-all. After trailing 20-17, Springfield rattled off three-straight points, before a Whitermore kill brought the spread to 21-20 in favor of the Emmanuel.
A winner from Pride Mike Pelletier forged a tie at 22-all, before Whitermore put another one down for the Saints. Pelletier then slammed one off the Emmanuel block to put Springfield out in front, 24-23, and forced a Saints’ timeout. Out of the break, Springfield served it long to knot the set at 24-all. A huge kill from Jimmy O’Leary gave the Pride set point and Mike Freytag and Evan Acanfora combined for a block, which gave Springfield the 26-24 set one win.
The Pride then carried the momentum into set two, powering out to a 15-7 advantage after a monster kill by O’Leary and Falcone found the floor at 19-10. Consecutive Emmanuel service errors, followed by a long hit from Emmanuel’s left side gave Springfield set two, 25-14.
A huge kill from Jackson highlighted a great start to set three for the Saints. Springfield signaled for its first timeout after an Emmanuel ace from Alex McKeen put the Saints up, 6-2. The Pride then rattled off four-straight points, including two solo blocks from Falcone to knot things up at 6-all.
Springfield built a four point lead, before Pride service errors allowed Emmanuel back in it. A short ace from freshman Ryan Kessler brought it to a 13-13 tie and forced a timeout by the Pride. A huge McCaffrey block forged another tie at 15-all, only to have a kill and an ace from Pelletier pushed it to 17-15, Pride. The two teams exchanged points with a Jackson kill and a Pride hitting error cutting the Saints’ deficit to 22-21.
Springfield junior Alistair Matthews put one off the Emmanuel block and Jackson found the floor for the Saints, bringing the spread to 23-22, Springfield. A kill from the middle by O’Leary forced an EC timeout with the Pride at match point, 24-22. Acanfora won it on a backrow swing and gave the Pride a 25-22 set three win and a 3-0 match win.
O’Learly led the Pride offense with 12 kills, coming off of 14 swings, hitting .786. Pelletier added nine kills and five digs, while Nick Ferry led the Pride defense with eight digs. In his first collegiate start, setter Keaton Pieper dished out 32 assists as the Pride hit .392 in the win.
Jackson led the Saints in his collegiate debut with 10 kills and two aces, while Whitermore finished with six kills. Updike handed out 26 helpers and freshman libero Ben Matthews picked up six digs in the effort for the Saints.
The Saints will now travel out to Springfield, Mass. for rematch with the Pride on Saturday night. Emmanuel will also open GNAC play, as the Saints face Johnson & Wales University in the tri-match at Springfield.